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Posts Tagged ‘pictures of factory farms’

“With the passage of Prop 2, California becomes the 5th state to outlaw gestation crates (joining Florida, Arizona, Oregon and Colorado) and the third to outlaw veal crates (joining Arizona and Colorado).  Perhaps most significantly, it becomes the first state to ban battery cages for laying hens, who are killed in far greater numbers than either pigs or calves.”

That’s what awaited me in my email inbox this morning, courtesy of Farm Sanctuary.  How exciting is that!?  No longer will chickens in California have to live like this:

And with California’s lead, the rest of the nation’s egg laying hens might also have a chance to someday live free of cages, able to spread their wings and turn around – such modest requests, really.

I am very excited about this, and want to thank all the animal advocates who worked so hard to make this happen. I know the folks at HSUS and Farm Sanctuary have been working tirelessly to make this a reality, and how wonderful that they have another success under their belt!

To read more about Prop 2, check out these links:

Farm Sanctuary Action Alert: Success on Prop 2!

HSUS: Californians Make History

HSUS President Wayne Pacelle’s Blog: The People Have Spoken

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I looooove pigs. I love how curious and sweet they are, and how animated they can be. When I was at Farm Sanctuary earlier this year I had so much fun rubbing their bellies and listening to them grunt with satisfaction. That’s why when I see pictures of the poor piggies who have been rescued in the Iowa floods, it just makes my heart melt. I mean, look at these guys!

Oh my goodness, look at those babies! And how nice is it to see a mama WITH her babies like that instead of confined to a gestation crate where she has no interaction with them besides nursing?

Anyway, while these pigs are undoubtedly lucky for having survived the flooding, they have been through a lot. They are sick, thin, and traumatized. Farm Sanctuary has rescued 69 pigs so far, several of whom are pregnant and expected to give birth soon. I am so happy that those piglets will never know the pain and suffering that their mothers have endured – but in order to make that a reality, Farm Sanctuary needs your help! If I had a farm I would TOTALLY adopt a bunch of these guys RIGHT NOW. As it is, I was only able to donate some money to the cause. I encourage you to do the same to give these tenacious survivors a new chance at life – a life that will never involve being confined, forcibly impregnated, abused and ultimately slaughtered. If you can’t donate money, at least go check out their blog & leave some encouraging comments. I’m sure the rescue workers are exhausted and would love to know that you appreciate their efforts and support them!

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Photos from Farm Sanctuary email alert.

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I know I just wrote a post about being a joyful vegan, and while I really, really do plan to be as joyful as possible, when I hear that a dairy operation (it’s not a FARM, that’s for sure) in northern Minnesota caused local residents to evacuate their homes over the weekend due to unhealthy levels of hydrogen sulfide, I don’t feel very joyful. In fact, I feel pretty angry. When will the people who operate these dairies finally own up to how incredibly awful these facilities are – for the animals involved, the people who live nearby, the workers, and the environment?? This isn’t rocket science – it’s just common sense (trust me, I cannot do rocket science).

So, as I said, the people living near this facility actually had to EVACUATE their homes to avoid the negative health effects of breathing in the toxins, such as irritation to the eyes, nose, or throat, headaches, difficulty breathing, and if high enough, neurological and brain damage. Doesn’t that sound lovely? Brain damage! Especially in children! Apparently the residents have been complaining for years, and nothing gets done about it. Before I get in to talking about how the animals must be suffering, let’s talk about workers for a minute:

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), farm workers are risking their lives every time they enter a manure pit. The…atmosphere which can develop in a manure pit has claimed many lives.” The manure pits are so dangerous because of the gases produced by the animals during digestion:

  • Methane
  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Ammonia

The accumulation of these gases within the confined space of the manure pit can produce an oxygen-deficient, toxic, and/or explosive environment. Doesn’t that sound like a nice place to work? Check it out:

Modern Dairy Barn

I’ll never complain about my desk job again. Ever.

Worker deaths are real: in August of 1992, a 43-year-old dairy farm owner and his 23-year-old son died from asphyxiation after entering a manure pit; in July of 2007, 4 workers at a Virginia farm died of asphyxiation when they entered a manure pit. There is case after case after case just like that – sad, unnecessary, preventable deaths.

So, now let’s imagine what the animals are going through. Stuck indoors all day, every day, living in close quarters, standing in their own manure, unable to eat a natural diet of grass, these poor cows are impregnated year after year, and deprived of raising their babies so that humans can steal their milk. Just imagine how horrible that must be. Now imagine being pumped up with growth hormones so that you produce 10 times as much milk as you should, being milked for hours a day for several years, and then being sent to slaughter when you’re no longer “productive”.

How does any of this sound like a good thing? These money hungry corporate farms are destroying the land, polluting our water, forcing people out of their homes, creating unsafe workplaces, and torturing animals. And it’s all for profit. How these people can look at themselves in the mirror at night is beyond me. Maybe when you make all that money you can afford a special mirror that convinces you you’re not a terrible person no matter how many people and animals you hurt. I really can’t imagine how you could live with yourself otherwise.

Ok. Now it’s time to go back to being joyful. I swear.

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One of the highlights of the Midwest Animal Advocacy Conference this weekend was a standing ovation-worthy keynote address given by author and animal rights activist Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. It. was. amazing.

The speech titled “Being a Joyful Vegan in a Non-Vegan World” was inspiration, tips and tactics for doing just that. Let’s face it: it can be easy to lose steam or feel down and out about the animal rights movement. On top of it, vegans sometimes get a reputation for being negative – but Patrick-Goudreau’s approach emphasizes the importance of being a positive representative for the movement. That doesn’t mean we can’t talk about the horrors of the pervasive cruelty against animals—just the opposite, in fact. We can talk about that, but we can and should also show non-vegans that it truly is a joy to be vegan.

There has been nothing more powerful for me than adopting a vegan diet and removing myself from the violence committed against “food” animals. Contributing to the suffering of animals became such a source of crippling guilt in my life that I needed to make a change. As an example, I remember the moment I gave up eggs. I went to the grocery store to pick up ingredients to make cookies. MA rescued heny grocery list took me to the egg section—organic, cage-free, mind you, but eggs nonetheless—and there I stood. I stood there for several minutes just staring at the cartons of eggs. I put a half dozen in my basket, looked at them sitting there, and put them back. I did it again. And then again. I looked at them sitting back in the refrigerated case and asked myself if I could continue to support an industry that tortures so many hens (see right) and kills billions of “useless” male chicks each year. I just couldn’t do it—the guilt became too overwhelming. I gave up eggs in that moment and felt a huge wave of relief wash over me. Then I went home and made some vegan peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Not only were they delicious, but I felt so happy for having removed myself from the violence of that industry.

Anyway, Colleen had a lot of really great things to say, and I’ll blog about more of them later, but this message really stuck with me. Showing people that being vegan isn’t about deprivation or negativity is important for the movement. If the only thing omnivores see when they meet a vegan is crankiness, they’ll never understand the joy we have in not exploiting animals for food, and they’ll never want to join us. I plan to remember this next time I’m feeling not-so-joyful, and I encourage other vegans out there to do so as well!

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Not long ago I went to a presentation called “From Farm to Fork: The Environmental Impacts of Animal Agriculture” held at the Bell Museum in Minneapolis. The featured speaker was Gowri Koneswaran, Director of Animal Agricultural Impacts at the Humane Society of the United States. It was a great presentation.

During the first half of her talk, she discussed the conditions on factory farms; namely, she detailed the cruel practices that cause unspeakable pain and suffering to the animals who live on these farms. She showed photographs of egg-laying chickens crammed 6 to a battery cage, with no room to spread their wings, nest, or practice any of their natural behaviors. battery cages

There were pictures of sows forced into gestational crates so small that they could not even turn around, calves in veal crates, and animals living in their own filth because they have no other option.

Gestation crate

These were all issues I have read about and been disturbed by before.

The second half of the presentation, however, was about the environmental impacts of animal agriculture. I was floored by some of the data. This site has a great map of the United States showing where factory farms are located (the Midwest is the worst!), and how much pollution has resulted because of them. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, “the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.” And while that alone is troubling, animal agriculture is also responsible for a huge percentage of the much more harmful greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide, most of which comes from animal manure. After sitting through this presentation, I thought to myself, “what am I waiting for? Why don’t I just commit to being vegan?” So I did. Everything I had heard and read about seemed to all point in that direction and I really couldn’t argue with it anymore.

If you want to read more about the environmental impacts of animal agriculture, I recommend checking out Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, which you can find here. It’s like 400 pages, so I haven’t read it all, but you can go through the table of contents and pick out chapters you are interested in and read those. That’s what I did, because, man, 400 pages??

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